Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Staying sober if you are driving

Leader staff writer

Make a plan and have a designated driver tonight, local police said this week when asked for safety tips to avoid drunken collisions and jail time over the New Year’s holiday.

Lt. Jamie Michaels of the Sherwood Police Department said, “Don’t even take one drink and think that you’re OK.”

Sgt. Richard Betterton with the Jacksonville Police Department added that the force will be participating in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign during the holiday.

He said, “Hopefully, we can get (drunk drivers) off the street before they kill somebody or have an accident.”

Betterton also suggests people stay where they’re going instead of going from one event to another.

And the plan Michaels advises might include calling a taxi when the partying ends.

Rose Holley of A-Plus Cab Company in Jacksonville, the only taxi service in the city that is in business this week, said patrons could even pre-schedule a cab to pick them up at a certain time.

The company is open 24/7 year-round, she said.

Although this is her first year working there on New Year’s Eve, Holley told The Leader that A-Plus CabCompany is prepared by having three or four cars operating rather than its typical one or two.

The company services all of central Arkansas with the exception of Little Rock. It can’t pick people up in Little Rock, per city ordinance, unless one of its taxis drops the group from another city off there.

And Little Rock cab companies can’t pick someone up from Jacksonville, but can drop them off there.

A-Plus Cab Company charges $5 per stop inside city limits.

A one-way ride from a bar outside city limits to a Jacksonville address, or vice versa, is $10 plus $3 for each additional passenger.

The company runs a special all year long for round trips to local liquor stores, which cost $10 and $3 per person.

An increased flat rate applies to all other trips, including those to and from Little Rock, which Holley said are more expensive.

Contact A-Plus Cab Company at 501-241-0750 for more information.

Airmen have another option, the Little Rock Air Force Base’s Airmen Against Drunk Driving that provides rides from volunteers to military personnel whose plans to get home safely have fallen through.

Call AADD at 501-987-2233 to request a ride home, which can be on or off base.

Another option, for those attending New Year’s Eve events in Little Rock, is popular share-riding service Uber.

Sherwood and Jacksonville are the closest local cities to the company’s most reliable coverage area, which encompasses most of the state’s capital and North Little Rock. Lonoke County cities are even further out.

Uber spokeswoman Taylor Bennett wrote in an email to The Leader, “While requesting a ride as far out as Jacksonville or Sherwood may be difficult given it’s not in the core service area, riders can certainly use Uber to get dropped off there.”

People can request a ride through the Uber smartphone application, which provides fare estimates and a price for the ride up front.

The cost varies based on demand, according to a video provided by Bennett. Prices go up when ride requests exceed the number of available drivers to encourage more drivers to become available. But they go back down when the number of drivers available matches how many ride requests there are.

The app can also alert riders when prices drop to the normal rate. Hundreds of drivers are available in the Little Rock area, Bennett added.

She continued, “In an ongoing effort to tackle drunk driving, we are partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and donating $1 for every ride with the code MADDNYE on New Year’s Eve.”

Bennett also said driver partners are being counseled on safety measures like accepting only the number of passengers their cars have seatbelts for, pulling up to the correct side of the street so that riders don’t have to cross it in high-traffic or dark areas and to report any incidents or confusion immediately.